On April 6, the Arlington, Va.-based National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) submitted a request for assistance to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Called the Milk Crisis Plan for USDA, the plan, which also will be presented to Congressional Ag Committee leaders, presents the organizations’ objectives to support U.S. dairy through the coronavirus-related crisis, Washington, D.C.-based IDFA said.

In an email sent to IDFA members, Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, said the organizations estimate that supply exceeds demand by at least 10% — “a gap that could widen as supply increases to its seasonal peak and as 'shelter in place' conditions endure.” The plan presents the organizations’ objectives to support U.S. dairy through this crisis, “beginning with an urgent plea: Use as many tools as possible — as quickly as possible — to bridge the supply/demand gap without any longer term market repercussions.”

In an April 7 press release, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following statement:

“As most of the country shelters in place and large swaths of the foodservice sector come to a standstill, dairy sales outside retail channels have plummeted. Market prices have fallen rapidly, creating a crushing economic outlook for producers of nutritious, and necessary, milk and dairy products.

“While no plan can wholly remedy the losses that are occurring, dairy is responding with a united plan that can help mitigate the damage caused to it by the COVID-19 pandemic. After extensive discussions across the industry, we have developed this comprehensive action plan to address many of the key marketplace challenges created by the pandemic and are presenting it to USDA.

“We will engage in discussions with USDA in the coming days to discuss the proposal, urging the department, as we know it will, to move quickly to address the effects of the pandemic on our industry. We also understand the demands being placed on USDA at this time. Nevertheless, after five straight years of poor milk prices that were just starting to improve before the pandemic hit, USDA’s immediate actions here will be critical to help people survive the market devastation that has occurred.  We look forward to working closely with USDA as we fight for dairy farmers.”